Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “compost”

Only in Berkeley – Three Stone Hearth

It’s quite a stretch to compare Berkeley to Silicon Valley. At first glance they seem the opposite of each other, but these two areas share one important attribute: they are hubs of innovation. While Silicon Valley is defined (or defining) the hi-tech world, Berkeley is seeking new sustainable, environmental, community models.

There is no need to decide which is better or even which to join. You can run your CSA (Community Assisted Agriculture) business virtually from your iPad (1 or 2). And many companies in Silicon Valley are anxiously seeking ways to keep their staff fit and healthy by offering gym facilities and nourishing menus in their canteens.

Three Stone Hearth is a community kitchen on University Avenue in Berkeley. While it has been around since 2006, the move to this central artery of Berkeley (it is the main street to the university and town center, and in the other direction to the freeway).

It embodies the Community Supported Agriculture model – you pre-order whatever is on the menus – but it also offers a chance to work as part of a cooperative and is a teaching facility so that you can learn how to cook healthy food yourself.

Three Stone Hearth mainly uses natural ingredients such as:

– organically (and local) farmed produce, grains, and nuts

– pasture raised meats, eggs, and dairy products

– unrefined sweeteners

– traditional fats

Worker/Owners (l-r) Jessica Prentice, Porsche Combash, Misa Koketsu, and Catherine Spanger

Three Stone Hearth are sensitive to reducing their carbon footprint. Their food is packed in re-usable glass containers, and they compost their waste. They also make a conscious effort to buy their ingredients from local farms.

I was surprised when I looked at their menu by the variety and richness of their recipes. This is no bland ‘rice and beans or else’ menu. Neither is it a vegetarian haven – there are many meat dishes available. On the particular day that I saw the menu it included soups, desserts, and a variety of drinks and cheeses.

What I feel is great about this enterprise is the community kitchen model, whereby everyone can learn and participate. But it also serves an important role for those who cannot cook or don’t have the time. Being a member of this co-op allows you to easily serve nutritious meals a few times a week or more. And if it is expensive, you have the option of working some of the cost off.

Now excuse me, I must rush and throw some mac ‘n cheese into the micro for the kids.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Starbucks Not So Starry?

This week, Starbucks are celebrating their 40-year anniversary.

There are a lot of people out there who really have it in for Starbucks. Just google anti-Starbucks search words and see for yourself. I have to say that while I am not particularly expecting the company to be perfect, I am far from joining the protesters, despite having repeatedly written about the multinationals having too much power. I prefer to go to a local coffee shop, not because I dislike Starbucks, but because I want to support local traders.

But here’s the deal. The coffee must be good, the ambiance conducive and comfortable to write, the bathrooms clean and the staff happy and interactive. If I go to a local coffee shop and find this, I will stay loyal. In Berkeley we take our coffee seriously, and so do the local coffee shops. But when challenged in certain areas of San Francisco and on the road, I often turn to the green goddess of Starbucks or the solid, reliable Peets coffee.

I have read several books about the special Starbucks mentality and embraced it in training my own staff and as a model for creating an environment and service to our students. I have written here positively on several occasions about Starbucks. I have defended their Fair Trade policy and complimented their coffee grounds for compost initiative.

But there are a lot of people out there who hate, yes I said hate, Starbucks. Try this website (you really only need to read its name) or the You Tube video below.

I was surprised to see the allegations about Starbucks heavy-handedness against attempts for a workers union. In The Accidental Activist, the multinational is the bad guy and my heroes admonish them for exactly what is being claimed here.

Starbucks supporters: what do you say about the company being anti-trade union? I need to hear that they are wrong. It will be easier than changing my drinking habits.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

 

 

When Walmart Cares About Our Health More Than The FDA

Last month, Whole Foods suspended their composting program because it was too expensive. Ironically, on the same day, Walmart announced that they were beginning a composting program at most of their stores.


Michael Jacobson’s article in the New York Times caught my eye. The FDA Should Be Bolder Than Walmart tells how Walmart is using its muscle to help accelerate a number of changes including:

– taking concrete steps to reduce their carbon footprint,

– forcing their retailers and distributors to do the same,

– supporting the fight against childhood obesity by insisting on the removal of trans fats from products that they sell. Though this isn’t a stated claim, they are probably helping cut cardiovascular diseases as well.

– insisting that their suppliers across the board cut sodium levels significantly.

Jacobson says that”Wal-Mart’s plan to lower produce prices (modestly) should increase consumption and (modestly) lower the risk of heart disease and generally improve health. All told, Wal-Mart will be saving thousands of lives, something it should be very proud of.”

The First Lady agrees and has openly complimented Walmart. What would be great, as Jacobson says, would be for the First Lady to put her influence behind pushing the FDA to lead the war, instead of following behind everyone … from quite a distance.

Now before anyone wonders whether the author of The Accidental Activist (an anti-multinational corporation novel) is getting soft, let me leave you with this.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

Grounds for Saving the World

When I grow up, I want a coffee machine that makes that first cup of the day automatically and perfectly. I want to come downstairs and be greeted by the rich aroma of caffeinated creativity. Then, with steaming cup in hand, I am ready to go save the planet.

Now it is heartening to discover that all this is possible. The coffee machine you can research for yourself, but I recently received a comment in response to a post in which I wrote about an initiative by two young Cal entrepreneurs who grow mushrooms in coffee grounds.


Now meet Shane Genziuk and friends, who run an initiative called Coffee Grounds to Grounds. They organize groups to collect their coffee grounds and recycle them in the garden. The nutritional worth of these grounds for the earth, plants and wildlife is impressive. The work that these young women do is as well. What is also encouraging is that we can all do our bit here – coffee drinkers to save the planet.

Now excuse me while I go pour myself a cup of Fogbuster coffee. By the way – Fogbuster is made by a great local coffee company called Jeremiah’s Pick.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

D-I-Y Composting

I remember proudly taking my mother around the environmental center that we had developed on my kibbutz. She was very impressed until we arrived at the composting area. Being primarily an educational center in a part of the world where ecological awareness was considered a luxury, I showed her a wide array of composting methods, with different containers and techniques.

My mother grew up in England during World War 2. She is part of a generation who have the Dig for Victory psyche deeply entrenched. She has always grown vegetables and has always composted. She has never read an article or book about how to make compost, she just has.

But most of us are estranged from the near mystical process of turning waste into fertile earth. Here is a great how-to video on how to start composting. It’s very cool. Enjoy.

or if you don’t fancy rolling your compost bin…

Yumm!
——————————————————————————————————-

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: